Monday, August 20, 2007

Obama reaches for Miami moderates

Senator Barack Obama is making a play for the segment of the Cuban American community that opposes the Administration’s 2004 sanctions directed at Cuban families – a “humanitarian and strategic blunder,” his spokeswoman says, that makes Cubans “more dependent on the Castro regime.”

Tonight the news broke that Obama will have an op-ed in tomorrow’s Miami Herald (the article is here) calling for unrestricted travel by Cuban Americans and easing of limits on remittances.

I’m no expert on Florida electoral politics, but I have wondered why it has taken so long for one of the Democratic candidates to make this move. In a fragmented field where none of the candidates is likely to take the full “hard-line” position, much less mine many votes in that sector, it seemed to me that one of the candidates could gain advantage by playing to the grievance of those who chafe at the once-every-three-years, no-exception travel policy, the $100/month limit on remittances, and the exclusion of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins from any visits or remittances whatsoever.

It will be interesting to see how Senator Clinton reacts, if she does at all. In the Senate, she voted in favor of travel for all Americans, but as candidate her posture resembles that of President Clinton: we can’t change U.S. sanctions unless there is change in Cuba. Obama, by contrast, is saying we should change sanctions precisely in order to promote change in Cuba, and also to do right by Cuban families.


leftside said...

Obama's move is a modest and politically popular position - even in most Miami neighborhoods. Still, to be the first to stake out this easy position was politically very smart. It could help him in the Florida (and NJ) primaries. If someone wanted to trump him, and get help in the farm states, they'd pledge to also end the senseless agricultural restrictions (on payment and just doing business). If convictions trumped politics, they'd pledge to also end the travel ban.

I find the hardline response in the Herald (from the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC's Claver-Carone) to be completely uninformed: "It (Obama's as yet unknown op-ed) entrenches the regime at this historic time."

Havana already knows the their prospects in Washington are better than at any time in recent history. As long as they don't make any mistakes, Cuba will be in a position to negotiate (behind the scenes) with the next Admin successfully. I think Raul has been trying to make that clear. Cuba could care little about reversing these stupid Bush policies. They will wait until they get a just return from the US in return for any planned reforms. Perhaps a grand bargain - property claims cancel out embargo damages. End of embargo for certain political or economic adjustments that give the US political cover. The path seems to be getting clearer as Cuba's relative strength increases. Obama however, is not to blame - Bush's stupid policies and Cuba's relative strength and stability are.

Anonymous said...

Finally! Let see. It is certainly important for the advancement of freedom and prosperity of all Cubans that the hostile and immoral policy of US towards the island comes to an end as soon as possible. However, it is even more important for the US themselves to implement a credible moral approach.
Example of Wisdom: "for it is an unfortunate fact that his departure [Fidel] by no means guarantees the arrival of freedom on the island"

To those who along the years have predicted the collapse of the Cuban system based on circumstantial events and are sure that The Change will finally come after the biological end of Fidel:
Do you remember how many times you have been convinced about "just few months for The Change to come because X"? Are you ready to lose again? It is true that the future belongs to no one but imagine that Fidel dies and stability keeps reigning the island despite all your theoretical elaborations. No surprise! On which next event are you going to base your hopes? Do you really care the people in Cuba?

leftside said...

Obama's piece blends nicely with what is coming out of Havana in terms of a view towards an endgame negotiated settlement. The following paragraph, to me, is more significant than any appeal to drop a couple anti-family Bush provisions. It is the first time I've heard a serious candidate talk about moving concurrently with Cuba, rather than wait for some unrealistic moving target of Western style markets and democracy in Cuba.

Accordingly, I will use aggressive and principled diplomacy to send an important message: If a post-Fidel government begins opening Cuba to democratic change, the United States (the president working with Congress) is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between our countries for the last five decades. That message coming from my administration in bilateral talks would be the best means of promoting Cuban freedom. To refuse to do so would substitute posturing for serious policy -- and we have seen too much of that in other areas over the past six years.

leftside said...

Here's a response from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

"It's sadly interesting that some who had spoken so passionately and loudly in favor of a strong and international full embargo against the horrible apartheid government in South Africa and the despotic military junta in Haiti now wish to economically engage with the brutal Castro communist regime. Are the Cuban people less deserving of freedom, human rights and equality?"

Does she not realize that the restrictions on family travel and remittances Bush places on Cuba were NEVER in place against South Africa and Haiti - nor anywhere else as far as I know? Is she unaware that free South Africa itself, is the country that sponsors the 181-4 vote to lift the entire Cuba embargo at the UN -and is rightfully more in debt to Cuba than any US policy. Does she really think a comparision between an openly racist country and a socialist one that dismantled racial discrimination are apt? How exactly does a statement explicitly calling for more freedom and democracy in Cuba, outlining concrete steps to achieve that, somehow make Cuban's underserving?

Anonymous said...

Phil, I heard a rumor that certain Cuban-American leaders(Ninoska y su marido,Perez Roua,Lasseville,Calzon,Armando Codina,el top aide de Ros-Leightin y de Diaz-Balart,Dr. Yanez,y algunos otros lideres,igual que Maricio Ferre y un assistente del secretario de commercio Guttierrez) se han reunido dos veces con representantes del gobierno Cubano de Raul Castro!
La primeras reunion fue en Marzo 2007 en Washington DC y la ultima fue en Madrid en Julio! Se espera que se van a reunir de nuevo en Septiembre en Espana(Galicia) bajo la direccion de Manuel Fraga y representantes de el gobierno Americano.
El que me lo dijo es un persona associada con el gobierno Americano y la Camara de Commercio Americana. Dicen que esta reuniones esta aprobada por los gobiernos Cubano de Raul Castro,Americano y Espanol!
Creo que esos criticos de los "Antiguos , Historicos Exiliados" se van a tener que callar sus bocas,por que parece que estos hombres si estan haciendo algo para mejor la situacion de Cuba y los Cubanos!
Interesante es que a Joe Garcia y la Fundacion no estaba invitado.

Phil Peters said...

Lo dudo. No imagino que que esos lideres tengan interes en platicar, el gobierno cubano tampoco. Mantenerlo secreto desde marzo, esto resulta totalmente imposible. Quien es Lasseville?

Anonymous said...

Lasseville es un commentarista en el radio ,habla de politica y es associado con Jeb Bush.
Es un estratista politico de nivel,local,estado y nacional!

Anonymous said...

Phil, parece que estas reuniones es de verdad! Algo me dice, que todo se sabra pronto,ante que termine el gobierno de Bush en 18 meses!
Cuba y TODOS los Cubanos(de Miami y de La Habana) parecen que al fin van a terminar su GUERRA CIVIL CUBANA y que pronto todos nostros ,juntos vamos a poder pasar "nochebuena en Cuba"!
Ojala, que esto sea verdadero y que el unico que gana sea el Pueblo heroico Cubano de de Miami y Cuba!

Anonymous said...

Phil, I heard a very,very reliable source in Miami,who works for the Federal goverment,tell me that numerous,high profile Cuban-American leaders have met twice and are planning more meetings with representitves of the current regime in Cuba. According to the information,both Washington and Havana, as well as Madrid's goverment has sanctioned the meetings and have guarenteed all participants full support,economic and diplomatically any agreement made!
If this is true how does this affect the current political structure in Miami and Tampa, and Florida???

Phil Peters said...

OK. We have somebody pretending to write Spanish, telling a story that wasn't funny the first time, or the second, or the third. Are we done now?

Enrique Soldevilla said...

Phil, eso son construcciones absurdas. Si en algún momento se produjera alguna conversación será de gobierno a gobierno, entre interlocutores legítimos de ambas partes. Los mencionados personajes de esa imaginaria reunión en Madrid no son contrapartes, sino partes cuya función es intermediar ante la Casa Blanca para mantener una tirantez en la política de Washington hacia el gobierno cubano.

Anonymous said...

I will travel to Cuba to see my family still living in Havana as I please, regardless of what Obama or his opposing facist critics say.

Ever hear of family values? Hasta su culo.